Local law enforcement offers tips to avoid identity, financial theft when holiday shopping online

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BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — What is not to love about online shopping? You make a list, check it twice, then go wild; until you land on a bogus retail website or your credit card information gets swiped.

As millions of Americans prepare to spend some serious money this holiday season, Lt. Jason McDaniel with Beckley Police Department is warning people to be prepared for identity and financial information theft.

“We tell people use websites that you know,” McDaniel said. “A lot of times you’ll see a deal online and its like…’wow that’s too good to be true’…well most likely it probably is because its not real.”

To play it safe, consider doing online business only with retailers you trust and have shopped with before. If you are interested in a new site, looking for a lock icon next to the URL or making sure it has that “https” are usual suggestions to ensure the website is secure.

But forewarned, in the digital age, Lt. McDaniel said even those can be hacked.

“It can all be changed to make it look secure,” McDaniel added. “That again is why you should stick with the websites you know are legit.”

When it comes to paying for these gifts, Lt. McDaniel recommends using a credit card instead of a debit card.

“A debit card is real money, that’s money that is your money coming out of your bank account,” McDaniel explained. “If a scammer gets a hold of that information, that’s your money coming out of there. Most credit cards have fraud protection.”

To be extra cautious, check your statements for fraudulent charges at least once a week, or set up account alerts. Do not be afraid to take action or report a website to your local law enforcement if experiencing issues.

“They have to file a police report,” McDaniel said. “No bank will take the claim from an individual without an incident report.”

Hackers on the other side of fake websites can face multiple fraudulent charges if found.

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